The United States Department of Justice has finally appointed a claims administrator to facilitate the return of Full Tilt Poker’s US player deposits. The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued a press release on Wednesday naming the Garden City Group (GCG) as Claims Administrator to oversee the reunification of FTP’s former US players with their long-lost bankrolls. GCG, which has handled claims stemming from bankruptcy and class action cases such as the WorldCom Securities collapse and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig debacle, has set up a website (FullTiltPokerClaims.com), an email address (Info@FullTiltPokerClaims.com) and a toll-free number (866-250-2640) to handle requests for information and/or semi-coherent profanity-laden diatribes. Lest anyone get excited, nobody’s cutting anyone any checks just yet.
A claims administrator was expected to have been appointed a couple months back, but hey, it’s the government. Wednesday’s announcement comes seven months after PokerStars agreed to pay the US government $731m to settle its Black Friday civil charges, a portion of which was to be applied towards making things right with FTP’s former US player base. The question now turns to how the compensation will be calculated. Will players receive the full value of their account balances when FTP shut down on Black Friday? Or will they only receive the funds they themselves deposited and not their winnings? Will those ‘phantom deposits’ that got FTP into so much trouble be subtracted from a player’s account? Only time will tell, but given GCG’s history, we suspect they’re well familiar with the old adage that ‘you can’t please everyone.’
On a somewhat related note, a class action suit launched against FTP last July by Illinois resident Judy Fahrner has been moved from St. Clair County to federal court. Fahrner claims “hundreds of thousands – if not millions” of Illinois residents lost money when FTP went black on April 15, 2011 and she’s seeking not only the return of their account balances but also up to three times that amount in damages. FTP software subsidiary Tiltware LLC and Erik Seidel (two of 26 defendants named in the suit) filed notice earlier this month to move the proceedings to the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, based on the number of plaintiffs, the amount of compensation sought and the fact that none of the defendants were Illinois residents. So now it’s a race: will GCG beat the federal court in paying Fahrner?